Sleeping with the Enemy
I have never been struck by the intelligence of Jon Stewart's remarks in the past but I have to agree with him that it is indeed possible to be outraged by the execution of two NYPD officers and also deeply concerned by police treatment of black Americans, simply because the two are not mutually exclusive. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio may have committed political suicide by making remarks which suggest sympathy or even solidarity with black Americans as a result of insensitive policing, but this does not suggest that he has betrayed his city's police force. The very idea that his remarks incited a deeply disturbed man to go out and execute two police officers before taking his own life is just absurd.
This debate is simply illustrative of the dogmatic attitudes which exist at each end of the political spectrum, and how these continue to dominate US politics without any sensible middle ground being in view. But the real reason for the appalling manner in which de Blasio has been scapegoated is quite evident. The man is not liked and not trusted, and for very obvious reasons. By having the audacity to marry a dark-skinned black woman and raise two mixed-race children, he has - in the eyes of many Americans - simply affirmed in the most vulgar way possible where he stands in the ongoing yet never-discussed persistence of 'us and them' politics. With an all-white family, his words would have been heard differently. Those who call him a traitor for his courageous remarks already consider him a traitor because of what he is as a man. They remain convinced that he turned his back on the NYPD long before he ran for election. He married and reproduced with the wrong kind, and his attitudes towards race, crime and punishment are forever influenced by his uppity black wife and his arrogant mixed-race, Afro-sporting kids. He chose his path in life, and it is clear where his loyalties lie.
Few will subscribe to the less popular view (as I do) that Bill de Blasio has more guts and character than any politician the US has seen in decades. Those few will understand the truth of his remarks whilst also acknowledging the deplorable, unnecessary and unacceptable murders of the two police officers. This week, de Blasio asked the media when they plan to stop dividing people - surely he is already aware that the USA's racial divisions are so deeply profound, and that the choices he made some time ago in his personal life will always define him politically for every one of 'us' who chooses to believe in a 'them'.
Merry Christmas, Mr Mayor